Music History

Published on March 16th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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Discuss: 1987 Was the Best Year of the Decade for Album Releases

[Fans of alternative retro, pop gold and classic rock should find plenty to argue about in this post from Chris Mihas. Feel free to leave your two cents in the comments section below. – AC]

St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, which means we’re well into the year 2017, and this year marks the 30th anniversary for a bunch of legendary albums. The 80’s contained some memorable musical highs and like every decade, some lows, but 1987 holds the best album releases in the bright neon, synthesized decade.

U2 released their iconic album, the Joshua Tree. Michael Jackson followed up Thriller with Bad, Guns N Roses launched their debut album, Appetite for Destruction and La Bamba contends as one of the best Movie Soundtracks-ever!

Album sales have been on a steady decline throughout the years and with the recent announcement of HMV going out of business (in Canada) it has become very clear that physical music sales are in disarray. On a positive note, there has been a resurgence with vinyl sales, which tells me people still appreciate the album format and that’s what the subject of this article is about:  recognizing notable albums. From New Wave to rock and pop to metal, 1987 was above the rest.

Here are 30 albums released in 1987 that made their mark in the music and pop culture world. So let’s jump in the Delorean and travel back to, 1987!

(*The list is arranged in no particular order)

U2 – The Joshua Tree

The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands

Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust

R.E.M. – Document

Pet Shop Boys – Actually

Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses

The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come

INXS – Kick

The Cult – Electric

Guns N Roses – Appetite for Destruction

Def Leppard – Hysteria

Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night

Whitney Houston – Whitney

Terrance Trent D’arby – Introducing the Hardline According To…

John Mellencamp – The Lonesome Jubilee

17 Michael Jackson – Bad

George Michael – Faith

Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love

LL Cool J – Bigger and Deffer

La Bamba – Los Lobos and Various Artists

The Lost Boys – Various Artists

Sonic Youth – Sister

New Order – Substance

The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me

Prince – Sign’ O the Times

Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation

Belinda Carlisle – Heaven on Earth

Eric B and Rakim – Paid in Full

Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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4 Responses to Discuss: 1987 Was the Best Year of the Decade for Album Releases

  1. Rob van Mil says:

    Good List! I’d also add Floodland by The Sisters Of Mercy, Come On Pilgrim by Pixies and The Lion And The Cobra by Sinead O’Connor

  2. Hugh says:

    Marillion – Clutching At Straws

  3. Tim says:

    Skyscraper – David Lee Roth

  4. Trish ONeill says:

    Look at this list! It would be tough to find another year with as many iconic music.

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